Quick Black Pepper Pork

from 21 votes

Forget bland and boring pork dishes! This Quick Black Pepper Pork recipe packs a punch of flavor with the perfect balance of salty soy sauce, crisp-tender asparagus and of course, plenty of cracked black pepper. Best of all, you need just 5 ingredients and 30 minutes to whip up the most tender pork tenderloin to ever hit your lips.

Quick black pepper pork with asparagus atop steamed white rice on a plate with chopsticks.

If you’ve tuned in to Instagram Stories, you’ll know that pork tenderloin makes a weekly appearance at our house. It’s seasoned simply with salt, pepper and garlic powder, then roasted and glazed with my go-to Thai sweet chili sauce for one seriously lip-smacking transformation from humble “other white meat” to family favorite entrée.

My dear Sweet and Sour Pork Tenderloin, I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but you have some serious competition in the dinner department. And we all have Justin Chapple to thank for putting the “tender” in “tenderloin!”

Justin and I met awhile back at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival and I’ve been a fan of his fresh and approachable take on cuisine ever since. His cookbook, Just Cook It! serves up 145 recipes with an emphasis on ease, from Caramelized Peach French Toast Casserole and Chicken Enchilada Stacks to Ravioli Lasagna and Free-Form Apple Tart.

As a working mom of 4, you better believe that I am all for meals that are easy, fast, fresh and totally family-friendly.

But in all my years of cooking, never had I ever thought of slicing a pork tenderloin lengthwise then into small pieces before cooking it. Mind legit blown.

The result is the most tender pork I have ever tasted—in a restaurant or in my home kitchen. Toss in some crisp asparagus and a hearty portion of freshly cracked black pepper and you have a 30-minute meal that tantalizes your taste buds and takes the stress out of dinner prep.

Ingredients

Besides cooking oil, you need just five simple ingredients for this pork stir fry recipe. I like to garnish the dish with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions, but these are totally optional.

Various sizes of glass bowls containing pork tenderloin, vegetable oil, black pepper, cornstarch, soy sauce, asparagus and sesame seeds.
  • Pork tenderloin: This lean cut of pork is perfect for stir-frying as it cooks quickly and remains tender. Slice the tenderloin thinly against the grain to ensure maximum tenderness. 
  • Low-sodium soy sauce: I find using regular soy sauce can often result in overly salty dishes, so I prefer opting for a low-sodium variety. If you’re gluten-sensitive, tamari sauce is a great alternative.
  • Cornstarch: Not only does it help to thicken the sauce, but it’s also my go-to ingredient for tenderizing meat. Similar to my recipe for Mongolian beef, this recipe stars an abridged version of a classic Chinese cooking technique called velveting.
  • Black pepper:I recommend using freshly ground black pepper for the best flavor, but pre-ground pepper works in a pinch (and the results will be just as delicious!). Adjust the amount according to your taste buds.
  • Asparagus: I love the crunch and hint of sweetness asparagus brings to this stir-fry. But don’t be afraid to mix it up! Swap it out for broccoli, bell peppers or snap peas. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time based on the vegetable you choose.
  • Vegetable oil: Because we’re cooking at high heat, it’s essential to use an oil with a high smoke point. I prefer vegetable oil because of its neutral flavor, but canola or peanut oil also work. Avoid using olive oil because its lower smoke point may lead to a bitter taste.

See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Black Pepper Pork

  1. Cut the pork. Use a sharp knife and try to slice it as thinly and evenly as possible. This ensures quick and even cooking. 
  2. Let it marinate. In a large bowl, mix the pork with the soy sauce, cornstarch, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Allow it to marinate for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to penetrate the meat. For even more flavor, you can marinate it for up to 30 minutes.
Pork tenderloin pieces in a pepper marinade.
  1. Cook the pork. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pork and spread it into an even layer. Cook the pork, undisturbed, until it is browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then continue cooking the pork while stirring for an additional 2 minutes. 
Browned pork pieces in a large skillet.
  1. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
  2. Cook the asparagus. Add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the asparagus and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
  3. Return the pork to the pan and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute.
Stir-fried pepper pork and asparagus pieces  in a large skillet.

Serve this with steamed coconut rice or your favorite Asian-style noodle. Or, complete your feast with my favorite Cauliflower Fried Rice with Pineapple!

Recipe Tips

  • Stir-frying is a fast cooking method so have everything prepped and ready to go before you fire up the flames. 
  • When slicing the pork tenderloin, aim for thin and uniform slices. This ensures that it cooks quickly and evenly.
  • Test to make sure your oil is hot before you begin cooking. You can test it by dipping the end of a wooden spoon into the oil – if bubbles form around it, the oil is ready to go. This is important for achieving perfectly seared pork slices. 
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lead to steaming instead of browning. If you need to, cook the pork in batches.
  • Taste the dish as you go and adjust the seasoning levels to suit your preferences. Add more black pepper for extra kick or soy sauce for a saltier flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make this recipe ahead of time?

While the pork is best served immediately after cooking for optimal flavor and texture, you can prepare the ingredients in advance to save time. However, I recommend cooking the pork just before serving to ensure it’s hot and fresh.

Is it necessary to marinate the pork?

While marinating the pork adds flavor and helps tenderize the meat, you can still make a delicious dish without it. However, I highly recommend marinating the pork for at least 15 minutes to enhance its flavor and texture.

Can I use frozen asparagus?

Yes, you can use frozen asparagus if fresh is not available. Simply thaw the frozen asparagus before cooking and adjust the cooking time as needed. Keep in mind that frozen asparagus may be slightly softer in texture compared to fresh, but it will still work well in the recipe.

Black pepper pork and asparagus in a skillet and garnished with toasted sesame seeds and sliced scallions.

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Main Course

Quick Black Pepper Pork

Transform pork tenderloin into a takeout-fakeout feast with an easy and fresh recipe for Quick Black Pepper Pork.
Author: Kelly Senyei
5 from 21 votes
Quick black pepper pork with asparagus atop steamed white rice on a plate with chopsticks.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients 

  • 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
  • 3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • Sliced scallions, for garnishing
  • Toasted sesame seeds, for garnishing

Instructions 

  • Using a sharp knife, cut the pork tenderloin in half lengthwise then cut it crosswise into thin slices.
  • In a large bowl, mix the pork with the soy sauce, cornstarch, black pepper and a pinch of salt. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  • Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the vegetable oil and swirl to coat the pan. Add the pork and spread it into an even layer. Cook the pork, undisturbed, until it is browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then continue cooking the pork while stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pork to a plate.
  • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil to the pan and red the heat to medium-high. Add the asparagus and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.
  • Return the pork to the pan and cook, stirring, until hot, about 1 minute. 
  • Serve the pork garnished with sliced scallions and sesame seeds. 

Kelly’s Notes

  • Test to make sure your oil is hot before you begin cooking. You can test it by dipping the end of a wooden spoon into the oil – if bubbles form around it, the oil is ready to go. This is important for achieving perfectly seared pork slices. 
  • Avoid overcrowding the pan, which can lead to steaming instead of browning. If you need to, cook the pork in batches.
  • ★ Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

Nutrition

Calories: 267kcal, Carbohydrates: 8g, Protein: 26g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 9g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 461mg, Potassium: 716mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 855IU, Vitamin C: 6.4mg, Calcium: 41mg, Iron: 3.9mg

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This post may contain affiliate links.

Recipe from Just Cook It! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018). Reprinted with permission from author Justin Chapple.


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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I would give this more stars if I could. This is one of the best and easiest recipes I’ve tried in a long time. Don’t be daunted by the amount of pepper called for. its perfect, even for children. I served it over rice.

  2. 5 stars
    Delicious!! We’ve made this several times now. Quick & easy (and versatile – add whatever veggies you have on hand) We have served with rice, rice noodles, salad & mashed potatoes and all are great sides!!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is my favorite for pork tenderloin!! We absolutely love it and make it frequently! Thanks Kelly!

  4. 5 stars
    My family and I love this recipe. It is fast, easy and delicious. Don’t be afraid of the amount of pepper. It is perfect!

  5. 5 stars
    OH, such a good recipe! I made it last week and substituted home-grown green beans and my family loved it. I am making it again today as one of my granddaughters said, ” Grandma, this is my favorite – would you make it again?”
    Thank you for this great recipe!

  6. 5 stars
    I made this for my husband and he was blown away! I did not tell him that this was one of the easiest and quickest recipes ever – I’ll just keep pretending that I slaved over it ;)

  7. Love this amazing recipe. It is one of my favourites for easy weeknight meals or for guests, who always love it!

  8. 5 stars
    This very simple black pepper pork recipe is amazing! I personally added a dash of Shaoxing wine and Worcestershire sauce and it tastes amazing! Thanks!

  9. 5 stars
    Really good recipe. I did add 1 tbsp Shao Xing wine and a few dashes of regular soy sauce to the marinade.

  10. 5 stars
    I loved how tasty this was- the fact that it was so easy was just a bonus!
    Made it as directed – my stove doesn’t listen to times as well as the recipe stated but 5 minutes between friends…right? All I know is my husband kept going on and on about it and asked me to keep it ‘on the list’ – served it with mashed potatoes and pork gravy (pkg but don’t tell). Thanks for sharing.

  11. 5 stars
    Definitely a winner! Made it last week for the first time and enjoyed it so much I’m making it again today!
    So easy and so much flavor!

  12. 5 stars
    Made it tonite. Loved it. Made no changes. Served it over cauliflower rice. Will definitely make again!

  13. 5 stars
    While I made some substitutions on the veggies since my household isn’t a fan of asparagus, the base recipe is quick and delicious! The whole family enjoyed!

  14. Hi…just wondering in the recipe section for cooking the slices of pork….that word later sb layer? And do you turn the slices and brown the other side ….and also.,is the marinade added to the pan for cooking

    1. Thanks for catching that typo, Janis! For the pork, as the directions above state: Cook the pork, undisturbed, until it is browned on the bottom, 3 to 5 minutes, then continue cooking the pork while stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Enjoy!